Saturday, August 02, 2008

McCain campaign blows dog whistle for Christian Nationalist extremists

A few days ago I asked rhetorically in response to a KSFO radio host saying Obama is campaigning as Anti-Christ and that New World Order Anti-Christ conspiracy e-mails about Obama are starting to circulate:

So how long do you think it will be before this sort of conspiratorial extremism becomes regular mainstream fodder? This may originate with extremists, but it is only a matter of time before Rush Limbaugh, Neal Boortz, and Sean Hannity are speculating about the mysterious deaths surrounding Obama like they still do with the Clintons.
Well, it's still up in the air on how long it will be before the AM dial is buzzing with speculation about deaths surrounding Obama, but the mainstreaming of Obama as Anti-Christ seems to be in full gear.

Last Friday I heard Rush Limbaugh playing this satire from Gerard Baker which is written in a Biblical style and has the effect of depicting Obama as a false Messiah. That night I heard Sean Hannity playing it on The Sean Hannity Show (featuring Colmes).

Ok, this is par for the course. It's what I expected. What I did not expect, was for the McCain campaign to make one of the most despicable dog whistle appeals to the most extremist religious element in America. Apparently, I'm not yet cynical enough.

Uploaded by dollarsandsense123 (h/t Framing Science for the vid)

Get it? Obama is portraying himself as "The One," the bringer of light, Moses who will part the Red Sea, blah blah. Again, this works to depict Obama as a false Messiah. It is a dog whistle for the millions of people who believe in this dangerous codswallop. Combine this with all the nonsense buzz about Obama having a "fascistic" appeal because of his ability to speak charismatically to large crowds - from such decidely non-extremist publications as Slate, no less - and there will be many a Tim LaHaye reading "liberal" hating Christian Nationalist who sees this commercial and will have the circuitry in his brain light up to say: Danger, AntiChrist coming!

Case in point.

A blogger at Daily Kos points out that on the same day that this ad came out Hal Lindsey - author of the seminal (for dispensationalist Christian fundamentalists that is) The Late Great Planet Earth which kick started the modern Second Coming theology stuff - wrote an article for WorldNetDaily saying that Obama is preparing the way for the AntiChrist

Obama's world tour provided a foretaste of the reception he can expect to receive. He will probably also stand in some European capital, addressing the people of the world and telling them that he is the one that they have been waiting for. And he can expect as wildly enthusiastic a greeting as Obama got in Berlin.

The Bible calls that leader the Antichrist. And it seems apparent that the world is now ready to make his acquaintance.
You'll notice that Lindsey doesn't think Obama is the Anti-Christ, which, like Hagee, seems to be a quirk of his bigotry. He thinks the "False Prophet" of the Anti-Christ will be a Jew (or at least he did in the book)**

"This person (The False Prophet), who is called the second beast, is going to be a Jew. Many believe he will be from the tribe of Dan, which is one of the tribes of the original progenitors of the nation of Israel" - Hal Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth

And he wrote that the actual Anti-Christ will be the head of a new Roman Empire. (It could be the case that Lindsey's views have been tweaked since then, given that I would assume constantly being wrong for 30 years about his Armageddon predictions must require some form of revision)

"The False Prophet (he is called that in Revelation 19:20 and 20:10) will be a master of Satanic magic. This future False Prophet is going to be a devilish John the Baptist. He will aid and glorify the Roman Dictator; he will proclaim him the savior of the world and make people worship him as God." - Hal Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth

Madill doesn't think it's coincidence, but I don't think its coincidence or coordination (I'm not sure if that is what he's implying.) As you can see, if you look at the article Lindsey cites the same Baker piece that Limbaugh and Hannity were playing as evidence that Obama is acting Anti-Christ like. What this is is the fruit of transmission (also see here) - the process by which extremist ideas make their way mainstream.

Figures like Limbaugh and Hannity promote the more plainly extremist ideas of "right-wing" conspiracists in a palatable form (e.g. the Baker piece which does not explicitly say Obama has something to do with the Anti-Christ.) A venue like WorldNetDaily serves as a sort of nexus point - a place where the extreme and the mainstream blur. At WND you can find mainstream figures like Bill O'Reilly along with more fringe figures like David Kupelian. Hal Lindsey's article there ties together the extreme (his End of Days beliefs) with the mainstream (the Baker satire.) This is demonstrative of the morphing of the secular/mainstream form of this meme with the religious/fringe version: this process is what allows McCain's ad to function as a kind of amphibian vehicle that works on both levels (as simple mockery of Obama's popularity and as a warning that he may be the AntiChrist.) But if you aren't plugged into the noise machine or the Christian nationalist media you're likely to not get the double message.

That the McCain campaign is playing upon the same sort of conspiratorial End Days fears that fanned the flames of extremism during the Clinton years is beyond defensible. One of the prime motivations of Timothy McVeigh was that he thought he was striking a blow at the coming New World Order.

At this point the religious framework of the radical right intersects with its conspiratorial view of politics. The tribulation will be the era of the Antichrist, Satan's final instrument in his struggle to defeat God in the battle for control of the world. Rightists see the federal government falling more and more under the control of malevolent forces. In this context one can understand why George Bush's popularization of the phrase "new world order" at the time of the gulf war was a political gaffe. He meant, of course, a reinvigoration of the system of collective security envisioned by the drafters of the United Nations Charter. But to some, the phrase "new world order" refers to the imposition of the Antichrist's rule. Important segments of the evangelical mainstream have endorsed this view. Pat Robertson in his 1991 book The New World Order uses the phrase as a code word for a diabolical plot, which he describes with anti-Semitic over-tones. The fact that "new world order" has taken on conspiratorial associations for Protestants outside the radical right is seen by rightists as a validation of their own worldview.

For the radical right, the "new world order" involves a conspiracy in which the United Nations plays a central role. While it may seem odd to attribute great power to so ineffectual an organization, the right regards the UN as the instrument through which national governments will be destroyed, enabling the Antichrist to gain control of the world. Since any government associated with the UN is deemed to be part of the Antichrist plot, the national government is illegitimate. The right concludes, finally, that groups and localities must defend themselves militarily against an alien, hostile state which is seeking to uproot the Constitution in favor of "one-world government."
This McCain ad is downright irresponsible and dangerous.

Update: I see Sean Hannity has been busy promoting the evil lie from Jerome Corsi - himself a progenitor of New World Order-esque conspiracy theory* - that Obama is in favor of allowing mothers to murder their children. More fodder for extremism to feed upon.

*To see that Corsi's NAU conspiracy is a subset of NWO conspiracy, witness this Google search for 'North American Union Antichrist'.
**[Edited 6-5-08] - I had originally written that Lindsey expects the Antchrist to be a Jew, but I misunderstood the quote about the False Prophet, who is apparently the evil analogue to John the Baptist. I regret the error (although I'm still right about the bigotry.)

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